666 Christian Crimes

700 - 799

710

Pope Constantine "accused the Archbishop of Ravenna of rebellion and ordered his eyes to be put out." [Johnson, 1976, 169]

722

Emperor Leo III ordered all Jews in the empire to become Christians. [Engh, 115]

725

"To show the heathens how utterly powerless were the gods in whom they placed their confidence, Boniface felled the oak sacred to the thunder-god Thor, at Geismar, near Fritzlar. He had a chapel built out of the wood and dedicated it to the prince of the Apostles. The heathens were astonished that no thunderbolt from the hand of Thor destroyed the offender, and many were converted. The fall of this oak marked the fall of heathenism." [Catholic Encyclopedia, "St. Boniface"]

c.726

Emperor Leo III, a Christian, issued an edict commanding the forcible baptism of Jews. Pope [St.] Gregory II did not protest that edict; he did protest another of Leo's edicts which commanded the breaking of all religious images. Gregory defied that edict and wrote letters to Leo protesting it. [Chamberlin, 11-12]

731

Roman Christians took Ravenna from Byzantine Christians after a bloody war between them. [Chamberlin, 13; Catholic Encyclopedia, "Ravenna"]

c.750

Although dated 30 March 315, the "Donation of Constantine" was probably written between 750 and 850. The donation is a forged document allegedly giving territories in Italy to Pope [St.] Silvester I (314-335). Lorenzo Valla, a papal aide, proved in 1440 that the "Donation of Constantine" was a fraud, his book was not published until 1517.

The Donation's date of composition, author, place it was written, motivation behind it, and date of its first use are all disputed. Chamberlin says that it was first used by Pope Stephen II about 755. The CE says it was Pope St. Leo IX in 1054.

The Donation supposedly gave the Roman Church title to Rome and all the palaces, provinces and cities of Italy. In addition, the document supposedly gave the Roman Church authority over the four Christian patriarchates of Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople, and Jerusalem.

Acceptance of this document as genuine by kings and emperors allowed the Roman Catholic Church to exercise temporal as well as spiritual power. The Church soon became involved in finance, politics and even war, and continued that involvement for centuries. The revenues from its vast land holdings made the papacy a prize for which the great families of Italy contended. That contention would lead to darkest days of the papacy. [Chamberlin, 16-17; Cross, 414; De Rosa, 41; Catholic Encyclopedia, "Donation of Constantine." See also, 1440 below.]

751

After consulting Pope St. Zacharias, Pepin imprisoned the Frankish king and his heir. St. Boniface anointed Pepin as the new king. In 754, Pope Stephen II repeated the ceremony. These acts established the role of the Church in legitimizing temporal kings. [Johnson, 1976, 172]

756

Pope Stephen II sent a forged letter from "St. Peter" to Pepin, King of France, admonishing him to send troops to liberate Italy from the Lombard king, Aistulph, or forget about getting into heaven. Pepin complied with the pope's request. [McCabe, 1939, 156 (McCabe cited the Migne collection of the Latin Fathers, VoL LXXXIX, col, 1004- as the source of the letter, and also noted that the letter had never been translated.)]

After defeating the Lombards, Pepin returned to the pope lands claimed by the Church as theirs by the Donation of Constantine. In contrast to the poverty of Jesus and his disciples, the Church now had extensive territories and even made military alliances to keep them. [De Rosa, 41]

760s

Christian emperor Constantine V persecuted Christians who worshipped icons, considering them either pagans or heretics. He forced bishops and officials to take an oath against venerating icons. He also closed monasteries where icon worshipping was popular, confiscated their property and burned their books. [Engh, 116]

c.768-772

After the death of Pope St. Paul I in 767, several factions each tried to install its own pope. This led to much violence, during which a Tuscan, Constantine, a Lombard, Philip, and Stephen, a Sicilian monk all contended for the throne of St. Peter. Eventually, Stephen emerged the victor, was crowned Pope Stephen III in 768, and the other two candidates were maimed and imprisoned. The chief notary of the Holy See, Christopher had helped Stephen get elected on the promise that Stephen would name him his successor. After his election, Stephen turned on Christopher and had him and his son Sergius killed. According to McCabe, Stephen's successor Pope Hadrian (or Adrian) I confirmed the allegations against Stephen. [Curran, 43-46; Johnson, 1976, 172-173; Martin, 85-89; McCabe, 1939, 160]

777

"... the citizens of Rome gathered in a parliament and conferred upon the pope the supreme authority to rule over them. The vicar of Christ, irony of ironies, had become the new Caesar." [Williams, 2003, 13]

Cardinal Lothair, elected pope (Innocent III) in 1198, "was from the Alberics of Tusculum, a family that was to boast, in time, thirteen popes, three antipopes, and forty cardinals." [De Rosa, 67] The first Alberic was one of Marozia's husbands, Alberic II was her son, and Alberic III a grandson.

799

Two leading clerics, Paschal and Campulus, acting for relatives of his predecessor Pope Hadrian I, had Pope St. Leo III's eyes and tongue cut out in the chapel of a monastery. [McCabe, 1953, Chapter III; Cross, 798]



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© R. Paul Buchman 2010-2011